East of England Co-op could wake up the rest of the country....

NOW, I have family from the East of England. And when I say family, I mean I am married to her. So I think I am allowed to get away with saying that the East of England's not always at the forefront of the modern world. It's kind of a bit sleepy over there, things just drift along. To be fair, it's a very pleasant place to be.... but when you consider Ipswich to be the big smoke, well you get my drift.

But the East of England Co-op is currently in the news for becoming the first major retailer in the UK to sell food that is past its "best before" dates. The plan is to sell tinned and dried products for 10p, rather than bin them. This is, to be honest, long overdue, and I suspect some of the bigger players (no disrespect to East of England Co-op) will be monitoring with interest what happens.

After all, on some of these sorts of products "Best Before" dates can be somewhat arbritary. It's almost like they put something on some products simply because they have to put something. The reality is that the tin of baked beans with the Best Before Nov 2017 stamped on it is probably perfectly edible. My grandparents had tinned food in their cellar from the 1950s which was still edible in the 1990s...  (I think they might have once won a competition in which the prize was a life-time's supply of tinned corned beef and peaches) *Not in the same tin, that would be horrendous, even by my standards.

I know WRAP are heavily involved in pushing ideas like the one the East of England Co-op is introducing and they're doing a great job. Someone has to, as the food waste figures are a disgrace in this country. But they'll need a mindset change amongst the general public before anything major happens I suspect. Which is why some beady eyes will be monitoring out-of-date tinned food comsumption in Suffolk....

Personally, I don't think the public understand the difference between best before, sell by and use by, and that's a significant part of the problem. Not that I have a solution mind....

MARK LINGARD, MARKETING 

Just tell me straight, and don't try and con me...

SO, like most people, I get a lot of emails. An awful lot some days..... and that's not including the one's that our occasionally over-zealous filter deems should never see the light of day. I really do get allsorts: from people trying to sell me fresh fish by the tonne, to people offering the latest marketing gimmick that can read the buyers' mind or some such nonsense, a high proportion fall into the 'jibberish' category.

I mean, we make and sell food packaging. So it goes without saying that we probably don't want to buy food packaging.... but we also don't want to buy 30 tonnes of fresh tilapia, or 9 crates of Israeli onions. The apparent level of research done by some of these people before they add my email to their mailing list is negligible. It must be 'Google>fish>they must want to buy fish'. Or Google>Vegetables>Blimey, want to buy some onions...'

I also get bombarded by sales people offering me hotels for trade shows I am not exhibiting at. Why did you call? It's not hard to find a list of actual exhibitors...And how many emails a day do I get from people offering me lists. Lists of lists. Lists of people doing a job, by job title. Lists of job titles. Lists of medical buyers. Lists of packaging buyers..... add it to the list of people added to my junk files. And then a week later you get 'did you see my email' or I haven't heard from you'. Yep, there's a pretty good reason for that. It's because I am not remotely interested and you should never have emailed me in first place.

I'm sure there was once a time when if someone emailed you, it was probably someone you knew; when you'd open your inbox in the morning and not have wade through a cyber equivalent of the dump-it site. Where there's muck there's brass I was always told, well it's the same with your inbox, and you're always worried you that might delete without even reading something that was actually genuine.

But the real bane of my email life is people who offer something - seemingly free - but there's a catch. 'We'd like to run an article, there's just a £90 reproduction fee for the photo'.... what's that all about? Seriously, it's just a £90 advert. Or 'we'll approach your suppliers for advertising support'.... no, it's just an ad feature. I used to work in the newspaper trade, I'm afraid I can spot it a mile-off. And the worst, 'we visited the show, and our editor chose you as one of the top 10 exhibitors'.... no, you've just targeted every-one and are waiting for the first 10 yeses. But no, thinking about it, the worst..... 'we've chosen you for a top award, give us £1,500 and we'll write about it'? What award, the one that you invited just to cream off a few quid from companies with money to burn. Seriously, does anyone actually say yes to this?....

MARK LINGARD, MARKETING

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